The Tampa Bay Rays are an organization that tends to keep the rest of baseball on their toes. Some years they are trading away a key piece from their World Series run to strengthen their farm system, and other times they are pursuing top free agents like Freddie Freeman. With how creative the front office is, one has to wonder - could they actually pull off a trade for Juan Soto?
I went into this through experiment believing it was mostly fantasy land, but after putting deals together, it really is not as crazy as it may seem. If the Tampa Bay Rays want to push for a World Series title in the next few seasons, adding a superstar like Juan Soto would do the trick.
The Nationals will be looking for a historic haul for their young superstar, and most people assume anyone trading for Soto will have to plan to extend him. But with if a team was bold enough to know he would be a rental through 2024? Tampa Bay certainly has the prospect depth to take on that kind of risk, while keeping the core necessary to go deep in the postseason.
Here is a potential deal the front office could look at to acquire Soto in the next few weeks.
Tampa Bay could offer OF Randy Arozarena, RHP Shane Baz, and prospects Vidal Brujan, Curtis Mead, Xavier Edwards, and Mason Montgomery for Soto, offering up an incredible package for the rebuilding Nationals while retaining one of the better farm systems in baseball. The Rays have built such a deep farm system that a trade that would gut most other teams could actually be replenished for them rather quickly.
The Nationals would have to like the idea of bringing in a young, proven outfielder in Arozarena, while getting the potential of guys like Baz and Mead. Losing this much talent would be a tough pill to swallow for the club, but necessary to win a championship. Taj Bradley or others could be swapped out for guys like Baz, but this would be a pretty strong package in itself.
Why would Tampa Bay make this deal though? Why risk the farm for a player who will certainly leave after 2024? First, adding Soto to a core of Shane McClanahan, Wander Franco, Brandon Lowe, and the rest of this scrapy Rays club gives them a legit shot at the World Series crown. If the team nurses back to health in the second half, they have a chance to take down any club.
Second, if things do not work out for the club over the next few years, the Rays could easily move on from Soto and replenish some of the prospects they lost in the deal. Even if it is not the full package back, they got to take their swing for the fences, and can end up with a title to show for it, or minimal losses with strategic moves.
It may sound crazy, and may be unlikely, but Tampa Bay certainly makes a case for one of the teams that should be most interested in Soto.